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Beat the January blues: tips for getting participants excited about completing their DofE

Cold and dreary weather, dark mornings, New Year’s resolutions and the dreaded return of everyday life after the comforts of the festive break can only mean one thing: January is here. Add to that an apprehensive few months of studying before the start of exam season and it’s clear to see why so many participants are often left feeling deflated about achieving their DofE Award. However, the first month of spring term needn’t be a gloomy one. To help you inject a bit of energy back into your school’s group, we’ve put together ten ideas for getting your participants excited about completing their DofE programme this year.

1. Regularly catch up with your participants to monitor progress of their programme, track changes and make any amendments. Find out how they feel, any problems they may be facing and how they could be solved. This is also a great time to remind them how close they are, offering your encouragement and support to keep their motivation levels up. 

2. Use sectional certificates so that participants can feel a sense of achievement for each step of their journey. Licensed Organisations (LOs) can obtain these from DofE Essentials, found on the left-hand menu in eDofE

3. Create progress charts showing all of your participants’ progress, either as a bar graph or league table, or take a screenshot of your eDofE ‘Participant overview’ screen. Add these to the DofE noticeboard in your school to help identify and encourage those who still have sections of their programme left to complete. 

4. Post pictures and ideas of fun activities that your participants are already doing or have done in the past on your DofE noticeboard or school’s intranet. This will help to inspire those who have sections not started or feel they have chosen the wrong activity. If you’re taking photos of participants that you plan to publicise, don’t forget to obtain the relevant permissions from parents, guardians or carers.

5. Create a ‘Hall of Fame’ on your DofE noticeboard to recognise young people who have achieved their DofE Award so far this year. Ask these Award holders to write about their experience and display this too. This will not only help to encourage those currently doing their programme to complete, but also raise awareness of your work and generate interest within your school. 

6. Create an ‘Achievers of the month’ space on your DofE noticeboard, where you can post pictures of participants who have completed a section of their programme or achieved their Award that month.

7. Send participants a congratulations card when they are three months into their DofE programme to encourage them to see it through to the end.

8. Send a letter to parents, carers and guardians to tell them how their child is progressing with their programme – highlighting any participants that still need to submit evidence and give guidance on how this can be done. 

9. Set a date for a special presentation in an assembly or similar to recognise your participants’ achievements, where you can hand out certificates and badges, and set a deadline for completed Awards to be handed in. Invite governors along to give the event a sense of occasion and importance, and ask them to contribute their personal congratulations to the young people. Remember: you must wait until the Awards have been authorised and granted by your LO before organising the presentation. 

10. Encourage participants to ‘Like’ the DofE on Facebook and ‘Follow’ the DofE’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, where they’ll be regularly updated with information about their programme and can see different opportunities for their sections. You could also advise them to take a look at the LifeZone, where they’ll be reminded of how the skills they gain from doing their DofE will help them get a job. 

To find more tips and ideas of how you can keep your participants motivated towards completing their DofE in 2018, and to share your best advice, visit the Schools’ Calendar.

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